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More on the Titans’ rookies, including the Zach Brown puzzle

After yesterday’s post highlighting Greg Cosell’s comments, I wanted to write more on the Titans’ rookies before moving on to how the Titans sacked the quarterback in 2011, including highlighting some comments I collected around the time of the draft and haven’t had a chance to incorporate into a post yet.

The place to start is with Zach Brown. Cosell’s comments echoed something I heard from other people and noticed in some videos myself: he simply doesn’t play as physical as you’d expect. This is especially curious given that he was a Maryland state champion as a wrestler in high school. The Titans have shown a bit of a propensity in recent years for wrestlers (Mike Martin and Karl Klug were, and there may be others I’m not remembering offhand), and there are a number of attributes like hand usage that apparently translate pretty well. It’s also pretty hard to be a good wrestler and not be physical, so how does a very good wrestler like Brown not play physical football?

Respected Packers writer Bob McGinn, who’s well-connected around the league, put together a couple interesting pieces collating his notes from scouts about top prospects, and a couple of them offered hypotheses about Brown, who ended up McGinn’s fifth-ranked outside linebacker. Anonymous scout quotes should always be taken with a tablespoon or more of salt, but one noted he wasn’t a coward, he just didn’t play physical. That obviously makes him an imperfect player, but, well, that’s what you have. Another noted Brown has always been able to get by on his physical talents, and may not have had to develop the right kind of work ethic yet. He played physically at the Senior Bowl, so he may understand it, and Brown is far from the first young man in his early twenties to have that problem; a number of them, but by no means all, do learn their lesson, and if that’s accurate, Frank Bush will be trying to impart that on Brown.

On to Kendall Wright. I dumped most of my more interesting material on Wright in the morning-after post back in April, including McGinn’s scouting quotes. One thing I didn’t hit in there is K.C. Joyner wrote a stats piece for E$PN In$ider ranking the receivers based on their efficiency on routes of various depth, and Wright came out tied for fourth, with very good YPA metrics on short, intermediate, and vertical passes. It’s worth noting, though, that he had the great good fortune to play with RG3, who had even better overall YPA metrics.

Mike Martin was the subject of a couple interesting quotes in the relevant McGinn compendium, where he ranked eighth among defensive tackles. The general tone seems to be that some of the scouts were more with my impression and Cosell’s initial take on him. One scout noted he was relatively short for a defensive tackle, measuring in at 6’1 3/8″ at the Combine. Beyond hand usage, one thing wrestlers learn is leverage; while the trenches at the line of scrimmage don’t necessarily allow the same space for grappling as a wrestling mat, Martin has some experience not necessarily being the taller man. Note as well that Jurrell Casey was another short player for the position, measuring in at 6’0.5″ at the Combine. Most teams, even 4-3 teams, look a lot more for taller players-the Bengals are maybe the exemplar in this regard, and selected my object of desire at defensive tackle Devon Still, who’s 6’5″.

I don’t really have anything on Coty Sensabaugh as a prospect, but I’m seriously remiss in not having linked this article on his draft day experience and some background on him as a person, including the tragic death of his older brother.

Finally, for this post, Markelle Martin. He came out as McGinn’s sixth-ranked safety, but that says more about the safety class than the level of affection for him. Speed and agility were recurring concerns, so if you’re looking for reasons for optimism, there are none to be found there. Judging from this interview, though, he seems like a good guy even though not being able to work out before the draft must have been insanely frustrating.